France to provide extra €20 billion to companies hit by lockdown

The French government could provide up to €20 billion in fresh capital to help companies hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday.

France to provide extra €20 billion to companies hit by lockdown
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire. Photo: AFP

“We have decided to put €20 billion into a special (state) fund in order to be able to support all those companies which might need it,” Le Maire said on Europe 1 radio.

The funds will be included in a new budget plan due to be submitted to ministers next week.

READ ALSO Will Macron be able to reawaken the sleeping French economy once lockdown ends?

France, like all its peers, is struggling to limit the damage to its economy caused by a strict coronavirus lockdown which is likely to be extended by at least two weeks to the end of April.

“As regards Air France, we are ready, when the time comes… to intervene,” Le Maire said.

Separately, the head of automaker Renault, Jean-Dominique Senard, said his company would hope to get state guaranteed bank loans worth four to five billion euros to help it through the crisis.

“We are working on ideas for bank loans which will be guaranteed by the state and which, one day or another, would be repaid, that is we would not weigh on the state's finances,” Senard told RTL radio.

“I am absolutely certain that that should allow us to get through this difficult period,” he added.

Asked about the amount, Senard said any loans were likely to be around that size but stressed it was too early to talk numbers.

Senard also ruled out any prospect of renationalising Renault, in which the French government holds a 15 percent stake.

Member comments

  1. When one reads what France is doing for it’s people in such difficult times and what the UK is doing. It makes one proud to be French.

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French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.